In many ways this book resembles a river, always moving, constantly changing, but with steady force sufficient to grind stone into sand. Like water, these stories dance through—not around—their subject matter, seeping into every crack and crevice, making connections in one scene and dissolving them in the next. Reading this collection feels like looking at the world through water—the angles don’t quite match what you expect and the light is diffuse, except when a ripple catches it and momentarily robs you of vision. Joffre’s characters are wispy and insubstantial in the way ghosts of past selves feel when we look back through the haze of time. If you turn your head or look away, they will shift into something else, something new. Something dangerous ... Ultimately, these stories are fairy-tales for a world that doesn’t know what it is anymore. They are reflections of a future that remains uncertain even as the world seems to fracture. Like water, these stories will seep into you, filling you past the point of bursting. For that, you will be grateful.
I was excited to see where her writing would take her, and her debut story collection, Night Beast and Other Stories, does not disappoint. It’s a mysterious and dark book, unafraid of confronting just how bleak life can be ... A sense of foreboding threads through these stories, and reading them is like walking through unlit woods, unsure of just what you’ll find. Joffre frequently writes about women who are in trouble, or just a step away from it ... Joffre joins an exciting group of women writers writing about the female body and desire. Fans of Carmen Maria Machado, Daisy Johnson, and Leopoldine Core will find a welcome new voice here. Joffre’s fearlessness to dive into the murky waters of longing makes this an original and startling debut.
Each of the 11 short stories in this collection shares a similar lyrical, hallucinatory air ... Readers looking for happy endings should look elsewhere, as the author does a masterful job of showcasing the danger, both literal and figurative, that women face by loving another person. Perfect for fans of Kelly Link and of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Joffre’s debut collection heralds the arrival of a new, exciting voice in fiction.
...an emerging voice in American fiction ... Whereas the collection's concept is intriguing, the execution is uneven. Joffre has a talent for making the macabre playful but ultimately Night Beast is disenchanting ... 'Night Beast' is a provoking piece, as Joffre explores the subconscious' role in sexuality and the social gradations of sleep-sexing. Night Beast's characters never define their sexuality in prescriptive labels and this is Joffre's rejuvenating outlook ... Several of the stories in Night Beast, however, lack both character and plot development ... Throughout, the characters' identities are often muddy rather than crystalline. Joffre shines in her ability to spotlight women and queer characters, however, Night Beast is a fitful debut.
Despite the collection’s exploration of various genres––from magical realism to science-fiction––and varied points-of-view (including that of an immigrant Chinese boy and a homeless girl), the book instills a single feeling of cold, detached melancholy as we repeatedly glimpse the many shapes and terrible costs of these characters’ 'painful and hidden' love. And it is indeed a glimpse Joffre oftentimes provides, depriving us of insight into her characters’ interiority at what seems like crucial moments. Though romantic relationships are only one part of our lives, Night Beast and Other Stories shows how they can overwhelm our existence in a way few other things can ... Night Beast and Other Stories serves as a reminder that we must carefully choose what art we fall in love with.
Most of the 11 stories in Joffre’s captivating debut conclude with haunting epiphanies that crystallize the emotions their characters have been grappling with throughout their telling ... Joffre’s characters range from everyday moms negotiating the crankiness of their kids to people imprinted with digital clocks that tick down to the time they’ll meet their soulmate and, in the title story, a bride who has sex with her husband’s sister during her sleepwalking spells. They all experience love and loss in a collection that amounts to a cri de coeur for sympathy and understanding. This is an auspicious debut.
The circumstances here are bleak: Men in the book are either oblivious or outright violent, but the women are rarely able to sustain more than fleeting comfort with each other. This hopelessness is underscored by a kind of narrative blurriness: Details in the stories get attention and then are abandoned, while seemingly crucial moments of motive or interiority are missing. The result is that the stories trap readers in a kind of disconcerting dream—by the time they're over, we feel a vague sense of melancholy without being quite sure why. Joffre’s ideas are vibrant, but a lack of development mutes the book’s effect.